Vietnamese club owner says players fixed ACL game
April 22nd, 2014

Published on Monday, 14 April 2014 by Andrew Warshaw at InsideWorldFootball

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Vissai Ninh BinhApril 14 – Asian football has been rocked by yet another match-fixing scandal, this time involving 11 players of the high-flying Vissai Ninh Binh club.

The owner of the club is reported as admitting that his players told police they had conspired to fix the result of an Asian Football Confederation Cup game against Malaysia’s Kelantan last month after placing bets with a bookmaker.

According to state-run media, Vissai Ninh Binh, who employ many of the Vietnamese national side, have pulled out of their domestic league pending an investigation but this could not be confirmed.

In 2005, several Vietnamese national team players were convicted of fixing an international match.

In the latest incident, the players involved apparently received around 800 million dong ($38,000) for fixing a March 18 away game against Malaysia’s Kelantan. The Vietnamese team trailed Kelantan 1-2 in the first half, but scored twice in the second to win 3-2.
The 2013 Vietnamese Cup champions made their AFC Cup debut this season and had progressed to the knockout stages with a game to spare.

Contact the writer of this story at andrew.warshaw@insideworldfootball.com

Categories: Asia, bribery, Corruption,
SCANDAL-RIDDEN ASIAN FOOTBALL BODY STYMIES REFORM EFFORTS – ANALYSIS by @mideastsoccer
April 20th, 2014

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Taken from Eurasia Review

Link directly to @mideastsoccer blog

Efforts to reform Asian soccer governance have stalled more than a year after FIFA ousted disgraced former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohammed Bin Hammam in the sport’s worst corruption scandal that tainted multiple members of the executive committees of both the world soccer and the Asian soccer body.

Bahrain Football Association president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, elected last May to complete Mr. Bin Hammam’s curtailed tenure has yet to act on his electoral promise of far-reaching structural reform. Sheikh Salman was at the same time elected a member of the FIFA executive committee.

Sheikh Salman’s promise included acting on a devastating internal audit conducted by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC). The audit served to unseat Mr. Bin Hammam on charges of conflict of interest.

“The audit’s purpose was to deal with Bin Hammam. It served its purpose. It’s been buried,” said an AFC executive committee member, suggesting that establishing facts as the basis for reform had not been the group’s primary purpose in commissioning the audit.

In fact, reform has all but disappeared from the AFC’s agenda with the removal of Mr. Bin Hammam, a Qatari national. Instead, with elections for the AFC presidency and FIFA’s Asian vice presidency scheduled for next year, attention is focused on efforts by soccer autocrats to rally the wagons in defence of their positions rather than democratize and make more transparent the group’s governance structures and efforts to further Asian soccer.
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Categories: Asia, bribery, Corruption, Human Rights, Middle-East, Security,
Far From Home, English Coaches Find Success by @JohnnyDuerden
April 18th, 2014

Taken from the NYTimes

The high point of Guam’s soccer history was there in black and white in February when it was ranked by FIFA as the 160th best team in the world out of 208, just two behind Indonesia and six behind India.

Not bad for a tiny nation with a population of around 160,000, and some credit goes to Guam’s coach, Gary White, who is doing his bit to try to push the international reputation of English coaches a little higher.

The English Premier League may be the most popular soccer competition in the world, but in its 22-year existence, no English boss has lifted the trophy (though Scottish managers have). Currently, Spanish, German, Brazilian and Dutch coaches are more in demand. In some far-flung locations, however, a number of young and ambitious English tacticians are carving out successful careers.

White was one of 16 students to graduate from the English F.A.’s elite professional coaching program in 2013, a year into his job with Guam, a tiny member of the Asian Football Confederation with big ambitions. Born in the port city of Southampton, the globetrotting White, 37, is aiming to show that the perception of English coaches being outdated in outlook and tactics is itself an outdated view.

“Recently, we are seeing English coaches furthering their horizons by traveling outside the comforts of home,” White, who spent nine years as coach of Bahamas, said by telephone from Curaçao. “They are beginning to realize that the game is global, so they must also become global thinkers. This shift of mentality is assisting in creating English coaches who will start to have more of an impact on the world game.”

It is starting to happen. Simon McMenemy, born in Scotland but raised in England, became the youngest national team coach in the world in 2010 when he took over the Philippines team at age 32, guiding it to unprecedented, albeit modest, success. Anthony Hudson, 33, is preparing for the 2015 Asian Cup after successfully leading Bahrain through qualification.
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Categories: Asia, Europe,
Asian Eye – Bahrain controversy is just the tip of a corruption iceberg
April 2nd, 2014

Great piece by Tim Alper in Total Football Mag

When you think of corruption in Asian football, the image that immediately comes to mind is that of shady individuals from former Soviet Republics clutching brown envelopes stuffed with cash. Western European football fans frequently recall 1995, when Dynamo Kyiv were booted out of UEFA competitions for attempting to buy off a Spanish referee with a couple of fur coats and a suitcase full of money.

Yet the former Soviet states have nothing, it would seem, on the rest of Asia, where match-fixing scandals are now a wildfire threatening to rage out of control. The latest embarrassing episode has seen FIFA step in to investigate a World Cup 2014 qualifying match between Bahrain and Indonesia (pictured).

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Bahrain had gone into the match needing a nine-goal victory to stand a chance of qualifying for the next stage. They ended up winning 10-0. The match saw Bahrain awarded four penalties and the Indonesian goalkeeper was red-carded inside the first five minutes.

The head of the Asian Football Confederation, Alex Soosay, has come out with denials. He said: “I am confident none of our teams are involved in anything untoward. Bahrain were the better team both tactically and technically.”

But the investigation goes on, and others, including even the Indonesian president do not share Soosay’s optimism. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian head of state, said he was “deeply concerned by what has happened.”

Larger problem

Regardless of the result of this FIFA probe, it only really succeeds in pointing to a much larger problem. Asian football has been enjoying steady growth since the latter part of last century. Japan’s J-League attracts some of the biggest crowds in world football, and Asian teams have succeeded in snapping up some big name players.

From Gary Lineker at Japan’s Grampus, to Paul Gascoigne at Gansu Tianma, Robbie Fowler in the Australian A-League and Nicolas Anelka’s recent transfer to Shanghai Shenhua, Asian football has demonstrated a clear desire to compete. In 2002, the eyes of the World turned to Asia, as South Korea and Japan hosted the first ever World Cup to be held on the continent.

But now, an ugly spectre threatens to derail all this progress. All across the continent, from its western edges, all the way to the very easternmost end of Asia, the menace of footballing corruption just will not go away. Aziz Yildirim, the chairman of Turkish giants Fenerbahce is now on trial on charges of fixing up to 19 league matches last season, with mobs of angry protesters camped outside the courthouse.

Chris Eaton, head of FIFA’s security unit says he has handed over evidence to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission which may prove that football officials in Malaysia have been involved in match-fixing.

In China, four referees, including ‘Golden Whistle’ Lu Jun, the only Chinese official to referee at the World Cup, have been thrown into jail after being found guilty of taking hefty bribes. Lu is a household name amongst Chinese football fans, but the courts showed him no mercy and handed him a sentence of five and a half years behind bars.

Match rigging

South Korea is the one Asian country that has been hit hardest by scandals of this sort. The 2011 K-League season has left the sport on its knees. Two players took their own lives as stories started to emerge last summer of how several K-League and League Cup matches had been rigged.

Players, it was revealed, had thrown matches in exchange for money from illegal betting groups. The South Korean authorities came down on offenders like a ton of bricks, throwing dozens of players into prison. Many were even sentenced to hard labour.

Ever since the K-League scandal, Korean sport has been threatening to implode, as players and coaches from other sports, like professional baseball and volleyball have admitted to taking money for throwing matches and spot-fixing. Korea’s K-League limps on, but the footballing authorities have abolished the League Cup in response to this tragic fiasco.

Japan’s J-League has also announced that it will take desperate measures to stop the violent Yakuza gangs from interfering with Japanese football. Authorities have set up an anti-corruption hotline in an attempt to keep the Yakuza away from football.

The J-League recently released a joint statement with players and referees in the country saying, “to protect the J-League from wrongdoing, it is necessary for us in football to continue cutting relations with anti-social forces, including crime syndicates.”

Rampant corruption

Experts are divided as to why football corruption is so rampant in Asian football. Betting on sports is illegal in many Asian countries, and few overseas betting agencies offer odds on the lesser Asian leagues.

But one theory is that the reason why Asian leagues are such attractive targets for corruption is precisely because they receive so little international attention. In strict Far Eastern societies, or devout Muslim nations, sports betting is exclusively an underground affair.

As this means even a modest bet involves the risk of jail time, it seems natural in such an environment, that players and officials will get approached by dubious individuals.

Although authorities in Asia have sent out the right message by cracking down hard on offenders, it seems almost impossible to stop the rot. Apologists will say that match-fixing scandals are hardly the preserve of Asian football – corruption is also rife in Africa, South America, and certainly Europe.

But if Asian countries cannot put an end to corruption scandals, football in this part of the world might never truly get the chance to bloom.

By Tim Alper

Tim Alper writes for South Korea’s leading football monthly magazine, Best Eleven

Categories: Asia, bribery, Corruption,
COMEDY, CHUTZPAH AND MALAYSIAN/SINGAPOREAN SPORTS OFFICIALS
March 31st, 2014

Another great piece from Declan Hill’s Blog

“[it is not fair to single out Malaysia and Singapore]… match-fixing is a problem limited not just to Malaysia and Singapore football.”

There is a great Yiddish joke about the definition of chutzpah.

“Chutzpah is when a man murders his mother and father and then begs mercy from the court because he is an orphan.”

Declan Hill

I thought about this joke and laughed very loudly when I read a story about Malaysian and Singaporean football officials complaining about me because I said match-fixing was deeply entrenched in their football (‘Brisbane Times’ newspaper article from earlier this week).

There are some events, some quotes, some stories in journalism that are so funny, so deeply comic that you could not make them up. The only thing to do when hearing about them is to laugh long and hard.

If there were a competition for Chutzpah – the sports officials of Malaysia and Singapore might win gold medals. (Sadly, you cannot say the same thing for the Malaysian and Singaporean national teams as their FIFA rankings have declined significantly since the systemic infestation of match-fixing in their leagues).

However, despite the humour this is a very important story for football-lovers around the world. Let us start at the beginning.

I like Malaysia and deeply respect its culture. Part of the reason why I like the country and its society is that when I was doing my research there I met very few people who did not openly speak about how its football league was corrupt. Tunkus, Dattos, (Princes and Lords), cabdrivers, journalists, players, coaches, fans, policemen, sports officials, fixers – men, women – just about everyone spoke about what a corrupted mess their sport was in.

This is pretty unusual stuff for Asia. Singapore, for example, is largely composed of officials who bravely say things like, “Lee Kuan Yew is brilliant” – but little else.

To be fair to Singapore, it is a much less corrupt country than Malaysia and the ruling political party (Lee Kuan Yew’s lot) have done a generally good of governing their society. However, the Singaporeans are often so afraid of open discussion that they have restricted, on occasion, The Economist and thrown political opponents in jail.

Here is the important truth that must be repeated constantly:

Singapore and Malaysian football is deeply corrupted. It is suffused with match-fixing. Not every game, nor every team is fixed – but fixing scandals occur so frequently that no one is surprised when, as happened earlier this season, an entire Malaysian team was banned for fixing their games.

Here is the second important truth that must be repeated constantly:

Many of the people who fixed football matches in Malaysia and Singapore have gone around the world and fixed games in dozens of different countries and leagues.

Repeat – much of the reason why the ‘match-fixing is not limited to Malaysia and Singapore’ is because of Malaysian and Singaporeans fixers.

Why is this important?

Because if you want to stop match-fixing in your own league, you have to stop it in its two principal source countries of Malaysia and Singapore.

This is not to say that there are not local fixers, but what they are often doing is hooking up with the Malaysians and Singaporean fixers. The local fixers fix the match (they know the players, the coaches, etc): the Malaysians and Singaporeans fix the gambling market.

Want to stop this current wave of globalized match-fixing?

Put pressure on the Malaysian and Singaporean governments to properly investigate and publicly prosecute the culture of match-fixing that permeates their leagues.

There is no one better to stop this wave of match-fixing than properly tasked Asian law enforcement arresting and putting on trial Asian criminals.

We do not need more conferences. We do not need more ‘education courses’. We do not need more committees studying the problem.

We just need one European politician or senior sports official from FIFA, IOC or UEFA standing up and saying,

“Malaysian and Singapore unless you put all the fixers that are operating in your country on a public trial and show that you are ready to seriously root out this problem, you will not be welcome in international sport.”

It really is that simple.

This current wave of globalized match-fixing can be beaten that easily.

Categories: Asia,


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